Two barristers’ chambers have joined forces to form a 17-member set serving clients in the south east, in a drive to boost their income and recruit more lawyers.

Cornwall Street Barristers, which has offices in Birmingham and Oxford, and Maidstone Chambers, based in Kent, have merged under the name Cornwall Street South. Members based in Oxford and Maidstone will form the new venture – which will take on a mix of family, crime and civil work – supported by those based in Birmingham.

Acting head of Maidstone Chambers Trevor Wright said his chambers will benefit from greater resources and support. ‘Our members will now be able to access an improved infrastructure which will in turn enable us to further strengthen our presence on the South Eastern Circuit and deliver greater exposure to more and different types of work both in the Midlands and in the central courts.’

Cornwall Street chief executive James Farmer added: ‘Our performance over the financial year 2020/2021 was nothing short of exceptional given the challenges that have faced the UK – and the bar – over the last 18 months. It’s been truly amazing to have been in a position to support members through these challenging times with both financial and non-financial measures in place to alleviate the pressures created by the unprecedented circumstances created by Covid-19.

‘Prudent financial management has meant that we are able to offer a range of benefits to members and a competitive rent structure that can be of benefit to all members including our colleagues at Maidstone Chambers.’

At the start of the pandemic, the Bar Council feared that over 80% of chambers could collapse if the government did not step in with urgent financial support. The dire predictions have not come to pass, however, with just a handful of sets closing as a result of the pandemic. Others have reinvented themselves as online chambers with no permanent premises.